Everything you think you know about the job market might be completely different in just a few decades.
Sure, sure, you say. We’ve had visions of flying cars and robot maids since the 60s. What’s so different now?
The short answer? Quantum computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), and the moment of Singularity.
This time it’s different
Tech industries have been climbing the wall of Moore’s Law in earnest since the mid-80s, but it’s becoming more and more likely that we’ve crested the edge of a revolution. The only problem is, this revolution isn’t about the technology, exactly, it’s about who's directing our workforce.
With changes in how our devices think and communicate, the potential for them to outpace us and eventually drive our decision making has become a startling reality. Subtle shifts over the past twenty years of progress have finally led up to massive societal repositioning.
Prior revolutions in our history have been about moving from hands directly connecting with work, to hands moving tools, to hands programming tools to move on their own. But this time, the shift will be from our hands doing the programming to the programs doing the programming. And the big question is, what will they tell those tools to do?
Why I think it’s going to change
Rather than taking a stab at predicting the future, I’ll just lay out the key factors I think will be responsible for altering what jobs will look like. But unlike how automobiles undercut the equine industry last century, these things are bringing something new to our next generation of workers:
- QRAM – superpositioning means calculating potential will explode to levels thousands of times faster than current processing.
- IoT – superthinking computers will have access to more data than we can conceive of.
- A.I. awakening – when machine learning crosses to anticipatory thinking, combined with these other two factors, it will give devices more potential than anything else in history.
It may be true that change has come incrementally in the past, but what QRAM and the A.I. Singularity have that’s new is speed. This, combined with the IoT data streams coming from everything we’ve made smart, means algorithms will go nuts predicting and calculating new opportunities for the rest of us.
This kind of speed and data combination will be unlike anything else we’ve ever experienced. Assuming we can keep up, even the best of us will be just trailing behind that kind of computing power; practically guessing at what it is directing us toward.
This future of work will be moving careers from management or ownership to more worker or maintenance crew—and at the beck and call of what those programs deem most valuable. Because, who can argue against all that data? After all, management can be outsourced.
The silver lining of your future out-placement
As we are inevitably racing toward this kind of reality, take heart that there’s no need to fear for your way of life. The coalescence of these factors is still decades off, but more than that, this kind of revolution would most certainly have economic ramifications. Namely, these A.I. predictions will likely be governed by some consumer-driven axiom given that the first automations will be products from some manufacturer marketing to us as consumers.
This means that, potentially, we will be at the service of devices designed to make our lives easier or more fulfilled—even to the point of them freeing us up to pursue truly human endeavors. With heightened efficiencies, (hopefully) circular resource attribution, and technology as a service (TAAS), the need to purchase or own anything (other than the barest essentials) could be just as obsolete as that desk job you have.
The real conversation about jobs in 2029
Will our jobs in the face of technological revolution shift from manual or task-driven to something more ethereal? Will we shift to a society of full-time artists and philosophers?
People want to bring value to the world. That will never change, but what the world sees as valuable is already changing. We can already see how people are turning to this kind of thinking with the number of startups, freelancers, and home-based businesses that have come into existence since 2010 over the past, say, fifty years.
It’s a bold, new future full of automation, innovation, and trepidation. A future that holds those few key elements of potential (QRAM, IoT, and A.I.) to completely alter our existence forever. So, are you ready?
To wrap up, here is the list of jobs I believe we can look forward to keeping regardless of what technology dictates:
- Any job where solutions are convoluted or not in a straightforward system, e.g.: plumber, mechanic, home remodeler
- Jobs that require intuition over calibration, e.g.: counselor, artist, novelist
- Those jobs where empathy or human contact is required, e.g.: interviewer, home-health aid, preschool teacher
- Any job related to metaphysical or spiritual concerns, e.g.: theologian, philosopher, futurist
In other words, the jobs that don’t currently pay that much or have historically been a pursuit of passion rather than a “traditional” career path. Those types of jobs deal with something that algorithms and machine learning still cannot, and will likely never be able to, replicate.But what do you think of my list? Did I overlook something else that can't be done by a microprocessor or that you think we'll be able to hold on to? Are you in the camp of those who think this revolution will be just like all the rest in history; slow and plodding shifts at our determination rather than sweeping change in the wake of intelligent automation? Leave a comment below to keep the conversation going.